You’re out and about with some friends on a perfectly warm summer night. You might be out taking in a local festival, or at a bar or restaurant. You part ways and head back to your car and look up, on a whim. Something catches your eye above; at first you think it’s a satellite or an airplane. But it starts moving in weird ways. Perhaps it moves in a zig zag pattern, or darts back and forth in an unreal way. Your curiosity is piqued and you pull out your iPhone to record this miraculous event.
The scenario above is not uncommon in this modern age, where everyone is armed with a smartphone and can record things at the drop of a hat. With that technology, however, comes some important guidelines to properly documenting your experience. Many people who claim to document experiences don’t take the time to properly make sure that what they film isn’t a frenetic, loud mess that leaves more questions about its creator instead of what's on screen.
Here’s our advice to you, cosmos watcher, on how to not screw up what may be the most singular event of your life. Without further ado, we present…
Four tips for recording your Unknown Flying Object (UFO).
1. Don’t zoom in too much
Trying to keep your object in perspective can be hard when it’s flying all around the sky. Fight the urge to continually zoom in and out in order to capture your object. This will just make the viewer nauseous, and will render whatever you capture useless. Instead, try to stick to a specific distance in order to better contextualize what you’re capturing, and may also allow you to use other objects in the frame for perspective. This will also ensure that the phone tries to autofocus as little as possible.
2. Lie your phone on a flat surface
A lot of cameras on smartphones are now armed with image stabilization, which means that there is less overall shaking when you’re moving and recording video. But image stabilization can’t save your recording alone; lying your phone on a flat surface (ie. the hood of a car, a fence, a table, etc.) allows for less jerky movements and a smoother video experience. Heck, even the use of something like a selfie stick (ugh) means greater control over your hand movements and as thus could be considered an improvement over your bare hands.
3. Don’t yell
This one is kinda self explanatory. You will want the people who view your video to yell out in excitement, surprise and wonderment. Allow them to do that – don’t join in prematurely. Shrieking or whooping while filming only distracts from the evidence you’re trying to present, making your video way less appealing to a viewer. An added bonus: staying quiet allows your camera or smartphone to pick up ambient tones. If your flying object is silent, then this is the best way to let the viewer hear it.
4. Don’t use your flash/camera light
Using your flash or camera/phone light will flood the immediate area around you with light; chances are that the object you’re recording is much further away from you than the light can reach, making its usage detrimental. Let the object stand on its own. Unless you have access to a far-reaching spotlight… Then perhaps this is worth your effort. Otherwise, leave the flash/camera off and pick up the object as is, instead of capturing a sheet of white light that has nothing to do with the object of your desire.
With these four simple tips, we can promise you that you stand a much better chance of capturing your UFO. Who knows, you may even go viral.